AZUSA PACIFIC GOSPEL CHOIR HAS FIRST CONCERT OF THE YEAR
October 1, 2017
AZUSA, CA - The Azusa Pacific University Gospel Choir had their first heritage concert of the academic school year on Saturday in Munson Chapel. The choir is under the direction of Lavone Barnett-Seetal M.A., and featured a variety of gospel music styles.
This was the first performance of six performances total in the fall semester. The concert which began at 7:30pm was opened by a word of prayer which was followed by the first piece, “Be Encouraged” with soloists Cameron Gallegos and Fabian Rodriguez. The concert featured folk spirituals, arranged spirituals, traditional gospel, and contemporary gospel.
According to the program note, gospel music is the twentieth-century form of African American religious music that evolved in urban cities following the great migration of blacks from the agrarian south in the period surrounding World Wars I and II.
The Folk spirituals section of the concert featured mostly upbeat, acapella pieces such as “Yonder Come Day, “I Don’t Feel Weary”, and Lord I Want to Go”. The arranged spirituals, “Keep Your Lamps”, and “Give Up the Old Man”, were slower acapella pieces. In the traditional gospel section, the concert featured a throwback to black history. “Take My Hand Precious Lord”, and “The Storm is Passing Over” which were first introduced in during the days of Martin Luther were performed by the choir. And the contemporary gospel pieces were the most upbeat and were what the choir concluded the concert with. The beginning piece of the contemporary gospel section was the famous song “Oh, Happy Day” which found its fame from the movie Sister Act.
Between each piece, students from the choir read scripture verses or would highlight famous individuals in African American history. The theme of the concert was “Be Encouraged”, and comes amidst much division on the APU campus after hate crimes have been committed toward students in off campus living areas. In addition to local events, the theme was applicable to the natural events the world has gone through over the past couple months including Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.
The choir’s intention for the theme was to encourage, and uplift the audience. “I thought it was pretty good, the choir sounded really fantastic”, says Matthew Baker, sophomore music education major at APU. Baker is also a singer in the school of music performing in the Men’s Chorale and the Chamber Singers. “My favorite song was probably “Oh, Happy Day”, Baker said. The audience was people of all ages from other students at APU to grandparents. Sophomore Madison Alexander was one of them. “One of my friends, Kaylah is in the choir and I wanted to support her” she said. “My favorite song had to be the Jesus/Hallelujah melody because of how they sang it so passionately”.
According to the school of music website, the choir has future plans to have studio recording sessions for various artists, and a mini tour to several Los Angeles County churches and schools.
The next concert is on Sunday, October 15 at 1:00pm at Union Rescue Mission in Los Angeles.